single tax


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single tax,

any levy that serves as the government's only source of revenue. Generally, however, it is understood to mean a tax derived from economic rentrent,
in law, periodic payment by a tenant for the use of another's property. In economics, its meaning is more complex, but since the word rent means any income or yield from an object capable of producing wealth, its limitation to a more special sense is somewhat
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 and used as the sole source of public receipts. As such, it is based on the doctrine that land and the natural resources are the source of all wealth, and it corresponds substantially to the impôt unique of the 18th-century physiocratsphysiocrats
, school of French thinkers in the 18th cent. who evolved the first complete system of economics. They were also referred to simply as "the economists" or "the sect." The founder and leader of physiocracy was François Quesnay.
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. Basic to the theory is the belief that the land and its wealth belong to all. The most effective advocate of the single tax was Henry GeorgeGeorge, Henry,
1839–97, American economist, founder of the single tax movement, b. Philadelphia. Of a poor family, his formal education was cut short at 14, and in 1857 he emigrated to California; there he worked at various occupations before turning to newspaper writing
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, who held that economic rent tends to enrich the owner at the expense of the community and is thus the cause of poverty; he believed that by appropriating all (or nearly all) economic rent governments could wipe out social distress and even acquire a surplus without recourse to any other taxes. George's theories have had some influence on land taxation in Britain, several of the former dominions, the W United States, and several European nations.

Bibliography

See H. George, Progress and Poverty (1879).

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